Top Tory official 'having to spend own money' for EU election fight as donors shy away
A senior Conservative party official is having to spend his own money to help the party meet the costs of the European elections, it has been reported.
The Times reports that Sir Mick Davis, chief executive and Treasurer of the Conservatives, has had to dip into his personal funds amid reluctance from donors to fork out for the controversial poll.
The former mining company chief is said to be funding some of the party's European election campaign himself, with Cabinet ministers briefed on the party's financial situation in recent weeks.
A Conservative source told the paper: "Mick Davis is having to reach into his own pocket to fund campaigning, at least up front.
"Hopefully we’ll recoup it later but Mick had to tell cabinet recently about the dire funding situation, particularly among Remain-leaning donors, because of the situation on Brexit."
Britain is currently on course to take part in the 23 May vote after Theresa May was handed a potential six-month delay to Brexit.
She has vowed to try and get a deal through Parliament by 22 May, a move that would allow the UK to swerve a Europe-wide vote which has deeply angered Brexiteers.
The reported funding move by Sir Mick comes amid mounting grassroots Conservative disquiet with the Prime Minister's handling of Brexit.
According to The Telegraph, party chairmen are currently circulating a petition urging Tory bosses to call an extraordinary general meeting allowing a vote of no confidence in Mrs May.
Under party rules, the Conservative National Convention will be obliged to hold the meeting if more than 65 association chairmen put their names to the bid.
The Telegraph reports that between 40 and 50 names have already been amassed by the petition, with London East area chairman Dinah Glover saying there was now "a lot of frustration and anger within the party".
Mrs May has also triggered anger from some Conservative eurosceptics by continuing to hold talks with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn as the two parties try to thrash out a compromise agreement that can get through Parliament.
Mr Corbyn - who has been pushing the Prime Minister to accept Labour's plan for a permanent customs union with the EU - on Tuesday suggested the discussions had so far failed to find common ground.
“The Government doesn’t appear to be shifting the red lines because they’ve got a big pressure in the Tory party that actually wants to turn this country into a deregulated, low-tax society which will do a deal with [US President Donald] Trump," he claimed.
STANLEY JOHNSON: USE NEW MEPs TO PRESSURE BRUSSELS
The claim from the Labour leader came as former Tory MEP Stanley Johnson - the father of leading Brexiteer Boris Johnson - urged the Government to make a positive case for the upcoming EU elections, which polls suggest will see heavy losses for the Conservatives.
Writing for PoliticsHome, the ex-MEP said ministers were "missing an important trick" and argued that freshly elected Conservative MEPs could help push the EU for changes to Theresa May's Brexit deal.
"In my view, newly-elected UK MEPs need to make clear that they totally disagree with the idea that the Withdrawal Agreement is done and dusted and not up for renegotiation or even tweaking," he said.
"And I am sure they will find other MEPs, outside the UK, who deplore the way the UK has been treated over the Irish backstop issue and see the need for change in the Withdrawal Agreement in this area at least."